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NYC COUNCIL MEMBERS INTRODUCE LEGISLATION TO CREATE BENEFIT FUND FOR TAXI AND FOR-HIRE VEHICLE DRIVERS

October 13, 2016

Bill would extend benefits that could include health care, disability and life insurance to drivers of taxis and for-hire vehicles

CITY HALL — New York City Council Members Corey Johnson, Brad Lander, Ydanis Rodriguez, Stephen Levin, Margaret Chin and Helen Rosenthal introduced legislation today that would direct the Taxi & Limousine Commission (TLC) to establish a “drivers benefit fund,” which would provide taxi and for-hire vehicle drivers with access to benefits that could include health care, disability and life insurance. Covered under this legislation are drivers of yellow and green taxi cabs, livery cabs and Uber and Lyft vehicles, among others.

This bill is one of the concrete steps that New York City legislators are proposing to modernize labor protections and ensure all workers have the rights, protections, and benefits they deserve.

In order to fund the program, the TLC would establish a surcharge of no more than ten cents to be added to all fares. Before the program takes effect, the TLC would be required to conduct a study assessing the feasibility and cost of providing certain benefits to drivers and report its findings to the Council.

“Driving a cab or for-hire vehicle in New York City is defined by long hours and stressful conditions,” said Council Member Corey Johnson, Chair of the Committee on Health. “These drivers deserve the same standard of fairness and dignity that we expect for New Yorkers across our economy. Cab service is a quintessential mode of transportation in our City, and it’s crucial that we do right by the hardworking people who operate these vehicles. I’m proud to stand with Council Members Brad Lander, Ydanis Rodriguez, Stephen Levin, Margaret Chin and Helen Rosenthal Rosenthal in demanding fairness for these drivers and for all ‘gig economy’ employees in our City.”

“More and more workers – including TLC licensed drivers – lack the benefits they need to be able to provide a decent standard of living for themselves and their family,” said Council Member Brad Lander. “A portable benefits fund is a step toward keeping workers whole and improving the quality of life for thousands of NYC’s drivers. Thanks to Council Member Corey Johnson for introducing this bill and for finding an innovative way to ensure all workers – including “gig” workers and independent contractors – have access to the benefits they need. With this bill, I’m optimistic that we can both authorize the TLC to provide critical benefits and create a model for portable benefits in other sectors, to ease the uncertainty that workers in the gig economy face.”

“Taxi and for-hire vehicle drivers deserve a safety net to provide the kind of benefits millions of employees already enjoy,” said Council Member Stephen Levin. “Now more than ever, drivers are entitled to improved access to primary health providers, mental health care, and other benefits to maintain their health and wellbeing.”

“Everyone who drives a vehicle for hire in New York City deserves the benefits enjoyed by employees in almost all other sectors in our city,” said Transportation Committee Chair Ydanis Rodriguez. “The hard working men and women in this industry face unique working conditions. Long hours behind the wheel, a greater chance that they will be involved in a crash, even if by no fault of their own, and a need to be at their most attentive at all times. This bill will support the workers in this industry, one that so many have worked and continue to work in on their way to the middle class. I am proud to co-sponsor this legislation with Council Member Johnson and I look forward to its prompt passage.”

“Healthcare is a right, not a privilege for those lucky enough to afford it, or fortunate enough to work full-time for a traditional employer. For-hire and taxi drivers often work long and hard hours, and it is time these workers get the healthcare and other vital benefits they deserve,” said Council Member Margaret S. Chin. “This legislation addresses a problem afflicting thousands of workers in the ‘gig economy’ by requiring the TLC to administer a program to provide healthcare insurance and other necessary protections for drivers and their families. With this legislation, we are making sensible adjustments to public policy to reflect the reality of a new for-hire and freelance economy that demands more flexible and portable benefits. I thank Council Member Johnson for leading this effort, and Council Members Rodriguez and Lander for their advocacy on behalf of drivers and freelance workers across our City.”

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Corey Johnson represents the 3rd District in the New York City Council, covering neighborhoods on the West Side of Manhattan including Hell’s Kitchen, Chelsea, Greenwich Village and parts of SoHo and the Upper West Side. He also serves as Chair of the Committee on Health.